ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

More on "The DotNetKicks Effect"

2/15/2008 11:16:47 AM

As I can see from your comments many have misinterpreted what I wanted to say in my Yesterday's post. So I need to clarify a few things.

First of all I love DotNetKicks! Without it I doubt I would ever get across the excellent Amr Elsehemy's series on Custom Controls Design Time Support which is what I'm currently doing for the best flash charts in the world (shameless plug, sorry ;)

Secondly I've never stated that DotNetKicks is going to degrade in quality to zero or to the level of digg (whichever is lower). The point of my post was that the higher the front page bar the lower are the chances of quality content from less popular sources to get through and the bar should be inevitably raised as popularity of DNK grows.

Some numbers

In the first 9 hours since my post post was submitted to DNK I got about 15 hits from there (I don't have exact hourly stats but this number could be off by +/- a couple of hits at most). Then it became popular/published and in the next 9 hours I've got 250 hits from DNK. That means about 6% of DNK users read "Upcoming stories" and/or read by tags, search, etc. If we take what we know about DNK stats - ~4000 main RSS subscribers, we get 240 RSS readers of not front page articles.

I know that these numbers are affected by things like that at the time of submission it was afternoon in Europe, evening in Asia and early morning in America and when it was published it was day in America, evening in Europe and night in Asia. But these are not presidential elections so that is not that important for the general picture.

My point in other words

As some of you have correctly reminded me, DNK has Tags and that's sort of additional way for content to get noticed. So let's rephrase my statement about "kicking" sources:

  1. DotNetKicks.com (including "upcoming stories", tags, search)
  2. Badge/KickIt button on the contents own site

So <Total number of kicks> = <DNK kicks> + <Content site kicks>

Now let's break down these 2 parts:

<DNK kicks> = <number of DNK users reading through upcoming stories, tags, searching> * <content quality coefficient>

<number of DNK users reading through upcoming stories, tags, searching> is a constant at any given time. <content quality coefficient> is also a constant for a specific article (though I don't agree that this is 100% true without regard to the name of the author). So the number of <DNK kicks> is a equal for the same article published on small blog with 5 readers or bigger site with 10,000 readers.

Now on to <Content site kicks>:

<Content site kicks> = <number of site's readers> * <current or potential DNK users percentage> * <content quality coefficient>

Provided that <current or potential DNK users percentage> and <content quality coefficient> are equal for both sites in our example, we get that <Content site kicks> is directly dependant on the <number of site's readers>. In our sample this means that the site with 10,000 readers has a potential of getting 2000 times more kicks than the site with 5 readers.

Note: I know that it's not all that straightforward in real world and that any decent mathematician would laugh in my face for such a linear approach, but, though I accept that actual numbers and formulas are oversimplified, the principle stands.

We are already seeing these things in action. As rev4bart noted in the comments to my post on DNK: "theblogengine...didn't 5 different themes make the top page in consecutive days?". I love BlogEngine.NET but is a release of a single theme for it worth of front page status? I don't think so.

Solutions?

Personally I think that digg's concept is flawed by design. But that doesn't mean that nothing can be done about it. Digg is doing something about it (balancing the "secret formula", etc.).

I see this possible routes:

  1. Getting rid of the KickIt image and banning for "kick requests" on the site. This is radical and not going to happen but from the top of my head this is the only real solution.
  2. "Balancing the formula". I don't know if it is possible to track the initial source of the kick reliably (DNK or site) but DNK kicks could have a higher weight than site kicks. Kicks from "friends" should have a lower weight than strangers, new users lower weight than veterans, those who kicked other stories by the same author lower weight than those who never kicked anything by this author, etc.
  3. "Controlled democracy". Addition of moderators/editors. Not sure though what they would be responsible for (pre-approving kicked articles before becoming front-page news or selecting additional front page articles from the ones with lower kick counts or both)

Another option is to enjoy DNK while it's still very good and deal with problems later. Your ideas?

kick it on DotNetKicks.com

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